Sunday, August 7, 2011

American Democracy?

Democratic Party died a slow death

By Mike Krauss
Bucks County Courier Times

The Democratic Party is dead. It was a slow death, painful to watch, but it’s over now. The remains will be buried alongside those of the Republican Party, which died some time ago.

The GOP took ill with the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Legions of Democratic southern whites fled their party and eventually made their new home in the GOP, bringing with them their passion for the Bible, guns and cars (Not necessarily in that order), and an abiding hostility to the federal government that had twice upended their social order and threatened their economic and political power.

Richard Nixon saw them coming and invited them in with a pitch to “law and order,” which gathered up the southern (and some northern) racists, the socially conservative voters upset by the changes of the 1960s, and the white suburban and rural voters who, while not necessarily racists, resented the huge and mostly urban spending of LBJ’s “Great Society.”

But Nixon was a moderate, who like Eisenhower before him did not make war on working men and women, and who took America out of war. And when Nixon went down the team that heckled Dwight Eisenhower at the ‘64 convention took over and the GOP died, to be replaced by the POG (Party of God), eager to fight His battles at home and abroad.

They joined the class of established and mostly corporate wealth that did not like it one bit when FDR started sharing that wealth and Lyndon Johnson tried to do the same.

All things federal became the enemy of the POG, while the nation’s established corporate wealth used all things federal to enlarge their wealth.

“Welfare cheats” (I wonder what color they were?), the ever useful communists and a focus on sex ( a sure attention getter) kept America’s increasingly deficient attention while the Reagan tax code accelerated the most massive transfer of wealth in American history — perhaps world history — into the hands of an ever richer few.

The Democratic Party was already weakened by Reagan’s assault on unions and the exodus of whites, and took seriously ill when Bill Clinton, a fatherless boy who longed for a family, got adopted by Wall Street.

Clinton embraced “free” trade, which actually carries a terrible price in lost jobs and low wages for Americans, and has since decimated American manufacturing and destroyed the old union base of the Democratic Party.

But “free” trade does wonders for corporate profit and Wall Street.

Then Clinton joined ranks with the POG to repeal the laws that had kept the banks and financial casinos separated since the crash of 1929. The result was not only that Wall Street crashed again, taking a lot of the middle class with it, but also that the finance industry — which produces nothing of utility — overtook all others as the source of profit in American business, and has further accelerated the transfer of wealth to the richest Americans and directed investment away from productivity.

While Americans were sold on “trickle down” — better described as “Scraps Under the Table” — economics, the wealth of America gushed up to the top.

The incomes of the richest Americans doubled under Bill Clinton, and tripled under George Bush, while those of working men and women have remained flat for decades.

Barack Obama, who also was adopted by Wall Street and will like Bill Clinton become wealthy, kept the Democratic Party in Wall Street’s pocket. Cut off from its former life’s blood — working men and women — the party’s condition grew critical.

The exact moment of death came during the posturing over the debt ceiling when President Obama put Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid on the chopping block, and moved himself to the right of Ebenezer Scrooge.

So two political parties that worked at the center of American politics and between them represented most average Americans, have been replaced by two political parties that work at the same reactionary end of American politics and represent the wealthiest Americans and the corporate engines of their wealth — Wall Street and war and the established corporate parasites.

William Penn observed that governments, like clocks, “go from the motions men give them.” But clockmakers have tools. Political parties must be understood as the tools people use to get their hands on the machinery of government. The tools Americans use to make government do what they want have been taken out of their hands.

Americans must take them back, or fashion new tools, or sit by and watch the American democracy die

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Six thousand air strikes later

Freedom lovers' quarrel

By Mike Krauss
Bucks County Courier Times

Remember the freedom loving Libyans who rose up to overthrow Muhamar Gadhafi, the ones President Obama ordered the U.S. military to support, without a vote from Congress?

Remember how upset Congress was at this further encroachment of the president on its authority?

The whole business no longer is news. What a surprise.

But it did get a blurb the other day. One of the freedom-loving rebels shot and killed the freedom-loving “military chief” of their rebellion. Another of the freedom-loving Libyan rebels from their “special forces” held a press conference to blame the crime on someone in the “faction” known as the Feb. 17 Martyrs’ Brigade.

Still paying attention? Or does this sound a lot like every other place in the Muslim world into which the U.S. sticks its nose?

The wire service news report explained, “The Feb. 17 Martyrs Brigade is a group made up of hundreds of civilians who took up arms to join the rebellion. Their fighters participate in the front-line battles with Gadhafi’s forces, but also act as a semi-official internal security force for the opposition. Some of its leadership comes from the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, an Islamic militant group that waged a campaign of violence against Gadhafi’s regime in the 1990s.”

Clearer? Maybe not, because one spokesman of the rebels blamed “gunmen” for the murder, implying an unfortunate, but uncoordinated wartime casualty; while a spokesman for the rebel military said the murdered commander had been “summoned” to a meeting and was killed en route, suggesting a set up.

This is bad news for freedom- loving Libyans, but possibly good news for the non-freedom loving supporters for Mr. Gadhafi. Many who attended the funeral of the deceased rebel were reported to be shouting that they wanted Gadhafi back.

But a lot of Libyans may know less of these events than you. The day the story broke, NATO forces bombed the broadcast facilities of the government (non-freedom loving), so that other non-freedom loving Libyans would not get the good news, or freedom loving Libyans the bad news.

Sorting out the freedom lovers from the non-freedom lovers is more of a challenge in Libya than it was in Egypt and other parts of the “Arab Spring” uprising, which continues with considerable loss of life in Syria and other places.

That may be because in Egypt and elsewhere, unarmed citizens took to the streets in their capitol cities to oppose their governments, whereas in Libya, armed, uniformed and trained fighters no one had heard of came out of the dessert to attack, first oil facilities, and then set up a bank.

Why oil facilities? Why a bank? Who are these freedom- loving Libyans with interests in oil and banking?

One explanation is that Gadhafi has kept control of the country’s oil industry, and has even allowed the Chinese to get into it — but not the U.S.

Oh, dear.

Another explanation, widely circulated in Africa but not much heard in the U.S., is that Gadhafi was using the revenue to set up development and infrastructure banks in Africa, offering low-cost financing and cutting in on the action of U.S. and European banks.

Oh dear, oh dear.

And freedom fighters emerged.

But freedom is never cheap, as American presidents like to point out when they get bogged down in expensive wars, and the freedom-loving Libyans needed cash. Fortunately, it was available.

The bank accounts that held the billions Gadhafi planned to put into African banks and development were frozen by Mr. Obama. (With the help of course of the international banking cartel. It’s one thing to bypass Congress, and quite another to bypass the banks). And the freedom loving Libyans were recently given $30 billion of those now unfrozen funds to play with.

Which may explain why they are now killing each other.

And freedom-loving Libyans and their freedom-loving American and NATO sponsors are left to hope they sort out which freedom-loving Libyans control the money, so they can get on to the really important business of who controls the oil and the banking.